The following blog post was written by guest blogger Claire Seigworth. Claire graduated with a B.A. in International Relations and a minor in Spanish Literature from Marquette University. She has traveled to many Latin American countries, studied in Santiago, Chile and worked in Panama for Global Brigades.
Global Warming, while almost undisputed among the scientific community, remains controversial amongst the general population in the United States. Recently scientists found that carbon dioxide levels have now reached 400 parts per million, the first time while humans roamed the earth. The only other time that carbon dioxide levels have been this high was about two to five million years ago. However, carbon dioxide emissions have never increased this quickly, according to geological records. It is true that carbon dioxide levels will dip below 400 parts per million due to the new foliage in the Northern Hemisphere, but there are no indications that global warming will slow down anytime soon. During the past few decades, no political progress has been made on the issue and carbon dioxide emissions keep rising.
This will not only have an effect on ecosystems, plants, and animals, but on human activities as well. Weather patterns have changed and extreme weather has become expected. Last year droughts struck most of the Midwest in the United States, leading to severely decreased harvest. Access to clean water will also become more difficult. Changes in weather patterns and water from melting glaciers are unpredictable. In fact, scientists predict that within two generations the majority of people on Earth will face severe water shortages. Clearly the planet is approaching the point of no return.
In the face of this, it is easy to feel hopeless, but there are things that can be done. Most scientists want the governments of the world to enact climate change protocols to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and combat global warming. However, many leading polluters, such as the United States and India have not done this. Write letters to members of all levels of the government and join environmentalist groups. Conserve water, drive less, and plant trees in your community. Donate money to environmental protection groups and researchers. While the problem is significant, you can make a difference in slowing down global warming.